Mudavadi moves to avert diplomatic row after DRC recalls envoy

Musalia Mudavadi

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi in his office at the Treasury Building in Nairobi on June 20, 2023.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The DRC on Saturday recalled to protest over reports of the creation of a new coalition of Congolese rebels in Nairobi.
  • Mr Mudavadi said Kenya has disassociated itself from the utterances that are likely to injure the peace and security of DRC.

The government has moved to forestall an imminent diplomatic tiff with the Democratic Republic of Congo over remarks by the country’s opposition leader in Nairobi.

This after the DRC on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Kenya, John Kalunga, after summoning the Kenyan envoy in Kinshasa to protest over reports of the creation of a new coalition of Congolese rebels in Nairobi.

The bone of contention is the creation of a new coalition of rebel leaders announced in Nairobi by the former president of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), Corneille Nangaa.

Last week, Mr Nangaa, in a press conference in Nairobi, announced that he was working with several rebel movements, including the M23. The press conference was also attended by M23 rebel group leader Mr Bertrand Bisimwa.

In response to these developments, Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi, who is also in charge of the and also Foreign Affairs docket, has said the government of Kenya has nothing to do with the statements issued by Mr Corneille Nangaa.

“The Ministry wishes to note that Kenya is an open and democratic state where freedom of the press is vouchsafed. As such, nationals and non-nationals may engage the Kenyan media without reference to the government,” Mr Mudavadi said on Sunday.

He also said his office had been made aware of the announcements and utterances made by Mr Nangaa but wondered why they were being linked to the government.

Mr Mudavadi said Kenya has disassociated itself from the utterances that are likely to injure the peace and security of DRC.

He said Kenya is investigating the matter to determine the identities of the authors of the statement.

“Kenya further affirms its non-involvement in the internal affairs of DRC and commits to continue supporting the peace, security, and democratic consolidation of the country,” Mr Mudavadi said.

Nation.Africa has established that Mr Kalunga was recalled to explain the reported creation of a new coalition of Congolese rebels in Nairobi.

Mr Alain Tshibanda, the spokesperson for Congo’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said Mr Kalunga was needed in his country with immediate effect.

“The Kenyan Ambassador has been summoned today, Saturday, December 16, 2023, to Congo to provide explanations to the Deputy Prime Minister Mr Peter Kazadi on the launch, Friday in Nairobi of a political-military coalition,” Mr Tshibanda said.

Also recalled is the envoy to Tanzania since Tanzania hosts the headquarters of the East African Community, which is a member.

This comes just three days before DRC goes into presidential elections with the current Head of State Felix Tshisekedi seeking a second term.

Mr Nangaa, who is a close associate of former DRC President Mr Joseph Kabila, attributed instability in the country to poor political leadership.

He also praised Kenya for being a hospitable country and for its active participation in peace initiatives in the DRC.

Immediately after the press conference in Nairobi, Mr Nangaa and Mr Bisimwa are reported to have gone into hiding.

On Sunday, efforts to have an interview with the duo bore no fruit as their handlers said they were out of the country.

“I don’t think he is in the country. In fact, all his interviews which were scheduled for the weekend have been cancelled,” one source told Nation.Africa on phone.

However, Mr Lawrence Kanyuka, who is the spokesperson of M23, in a statement said, they are not for the idea of uniting all the political, social and military forces that operate in the DRC.

“I am appealing to this group that it is time we started working together to establish a structured and dynamic group that will address the root causes of conflict in our country. All we want is to ensure that peace returns to our country,” said Mr Kanyuka.

He said any Congolese citizen who shared the same ideas with them should reach out to help restore peace to the country.

The sentiments made by the rebel group alongside the opposition leader caught the attention of the United States, which said the individuals who held the press conference have been sanctioned.

Ms Lucy Tamlyn, who is the US ambassador to the DRC, said the announcement of the creation of the group was an affront to the Congolese people.

“The US Embassy in Kinshasa expresses deep concern over the December 15, 2023, announcement by the Congo River Alliance, a group that includes Corneille Nangaa and Michael Rukunda - individuals sanctioned by the USA and the M23, similarly sanctioned by the US. The AFC’s threats are an affront to the Congolese people, as they prepare to peacefully exercise their civil and political rights enshrined in the Congolese constitution,” Ms Tamlyn said.

She further asked the rebel group and the opposition team, led by Mr Nangaa, to comply with African-led regional peace initiatives, including the Luanda and Nairobi processes.

The envoy said the US is considering taking action, including Visa restrictions or other measures, against anyone who is undermining democracy or threatening the peace, security and stability of DRC and the neighboring countries.